A quick poll held among the attendees of our recent executive event on data platform and analytics cloudification has confirmed, once again, what we already knew from our own practice in that particular field of expertise: managing the technology isn’t the most difficult part of a journey to the cloud. It’s managing the people and the processes that constitutes the real and biggest challenge on that journey.
Asked what they saw as the main hurdles in their cloud journey for data and analytics, close to half of the attendees (45%) at our joint event with Microsoft and SAS pointed to people-oriented aspects of that journey. Only one in four (23%) saw regulatory constraints as a main hurdle. And only one in seven (14%) referred to the financial case not being clear or strong enough.
Transforming business and culture
There is a clear and unmistakable lesson in there, of course, about the importance of factoring in the human factor as well, when moving your data platform and your analytics to the cloud. A lesson which was perfectly illustrated by a testimonial from one of our customers at the event. One of the early adopters, if not the very first insurance company we helped to implement SAS Viya on Azure in Belgium, Federale Verzekering-Assurance saw this cloud migration project as a way to transform both its business and its corporate culture, according to Ariane Berckmoes, CTO of the insurance pioneer.
We don’t look at IT from the point of view of system integration, but in terms of people integration.
Ariane Berckmoes, CTO at Federale Verzekering-Assurance
“An insurer manages risks and does so on the basis of information”, she explained with regard to the business. “The more data you have, the better you can assess the risks and the better you can do your job as an insurer.” With regard to the corporate culture, she claimed that the ultimate goal of the whole transformation process was to bring business and IT together, with data as the central element shared by both. Therefore the focus of IT should be on the design of the solution and the integration of the people, not on system engineering or on administration. “We are an insurance company, not an IT company. That’s why we don’t look at IT from the point of view of system integration, but in terms of people integration,” she concluded.
Sharing insights and experiences
Federale Verzekering-Assurance wasn’t the only customer to share their insights and experiences at the event. Andrew Irving, SAS Administrator at the British Vanquis Bank, also shared some of the lessons learnt on his organisation’s journey to the cloud.
Before these customers took to the stage, our own Practice Lead, Samuel De Klerck, and experts from our strategic partners, Microsoft (Joris Aeles, Azure Business Group Lead, Microsoft BeLux) and SAS (Mathias Coopmans, EMEA Presales Manager Architecture & Cloud, SAS BeLux), jointly explained why you should move your data platform to the cloud and how to go about it successfully.
Companies no longer have to face a large up-front investment in software and infrastructure.
Samuel De Klerck, Practice Lead at LACO
As to the why, Samuel De Klerck referred to one of the greatest advantages of the cloud: companies no longer have to face a large up-front investment in software and infrastructure. “That aspect is very important now that the conditions in which a company operates can change so tremendously quickly,” he explained. To give a current example: a company that in the past never really found it worthwhile to analyze and optimize its energy consumption, may have a completely different view today.
Closing speaker for the event was none other than Roberto Martínez, the renowned coach of our Belgian national football team.
Whether it concerns business or football: people want clarity. Never assume that they ‘will know’.
Roberto Martinez, Coach of Belgian Red Devils
In a fun, informal Q&A session, he talked about the importance and the use of data, showing that analytics can be applied everywhere, even in football. In line with the already mentioned theme of people-centricity, which ran like a recurring thread through our entire event, the Red Devils coach also talked about leadership and the human (resources) aspects of guiding a team. “Whether it concerns business or football: people want clarity,” he stated. “Never assume that they ‘will know’.” Next to open communication, Roberto Martínez also advocated the creation of a culture that equates the success of individuals with the success of the team. “Anyone who can realize their personal ambition in the team also contributes to the success of the team,” he concluded.